Monday, October 14, 2013

No more waiting around for parcels to arrive. No more rushing to the post office and queuing up with a "misssed delivery" slip.

With drones, you can get packages delivered to your exact location, within minutes.  They target the location of your smartphone, via GPS, so even if you walk down the road they'll still find you.

Flirtey Zookal flight on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

6 ways personal data tracking is getting easier

Automation is key with personal analytics, because people are too busy and too lazy to self-record everything, despite increasing numbers of mobile apps trying to make it easier.

Actively self-tracking also introduces errors and reporting bias.  You're more likely to remember recording your mood when you're miserable than when you're neutral, or slightly happy. Here's how it will get easier:

1. Ubiquitous sensors
The Internet of Things will be busy learning about you. Expect a deluge of sensors in every home and every object.  Your phone already collates data on when and where you travel, expect your car and GPS to do likewise.

2. Wearable computers
Google Glass and its rivals have a key role to play, even more so when they can reliably interpret commands given through brainwaves.

3. "Old skool" devices
Pedometers, heart rate monitors, sleep monitors and others will get increasingly connected, transmitting data automatically, in realtime, much like the FitBit.

4. Social mining
Social media networks are already gathering up vast realms of data on users, the next step is grabbing this yourself and taking a look. Give Me My Data, which lets you extract and visualise your existing Facebook data.

5. Smart meters
Already going into homes, the same meter that helps you use energy more efficiently will also be able to tell you about your life: when you're up, how often you cook, how much longer you shower when it's cold.

6. Data interfacing
Mint grabs data from your different financial accounts, so there's no need to add it separately. Similarly you authorise various apps to automatically mine and analyse your Facebook data, or your Google history.

So you've discovered that you sleep longer after eating tomatoes, that your mood is higher when you've seen more yellow, and that you drive faster on days you send less tweets. The question then is what do you do with all these insights?

Personal analytics: tracking yourself

Major technology trends these days tend to lead from the ground up. Consumer adoption is followed by corporate adoption. iPads arrived in the living room long before tablets appeared in the office.

So what about big data? Will personal analytics end up driving BI?

Wolfram Alpha creator Stephen Wolfram has experimented with this, but given his PhD in Particle Physics he's hardly a layperson.

To what extent, then, are we seeing regular individuals tracking different data sets in their lives, and analysing them? Here are some interesting ways:

1. Diet & fitness
FitDay records nutritional intake, activity, mood and custom data, and spits out charts showing nutrient deficiencies or calories vs mood.

2. Conception
Fertility Friend allows women to compare and overlay menstrual cycles with those of thousands of other women, to analyse why they may be struggling to conceive.

3. Infant care
Numerous apps, like iBaby Log, help new parents capture and analyse information about their newborns, to figure out correlations between feeding and sleep.

4. Happiness
MoodPanda records and creates a graph of your mood, which you can compare against the entire world's mood, or the mood of your geographic area.

5. Money
Mint pulls in information from different financial accounts, and graphs how much you are spending in different categories at different times.

If you're interested in turning your own life into a graph, try these sites:

Personal Informatics
Measured Me
your.flowingdata (YFD)
12 apps to track, share and visualise peronal data
Wolfram Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook

What will really propel the wider use of personal analytics is ease of capture: making the data collection effortless.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to make love to the camera

So you want to make a video, but you're more George Constanza than George Clooney?

There are quite a few tricks that can help you maximise your attributes and minimise your flaws.

Ultimately it's about having personality and confidence and letting that shine through.

But the camera can also lie for you a bit - here's how.

Sunday, April 7, 2013